Keeping Empty Hearts Full

Keeping Empty Hearts Full

It’s become an inspirational icon for me. This buoyant balloon-filled heart lifts my spirits every year. Then Mark Nepo’s words from his “Meeting the World” meditation caption it perfectly for me:

The heart is very much like a miraculous balloon. Its lightness comes from staying full.

The heart is very much like a miraculous balloon. Its lightness comes from staying full.

Isn’t that so true?

That image and those words create both a symbol and a roadmap for that special day we celebrate tomorrow, Valentine’s Day, the one that honors the most powerful force we possess—the ability to love.

The way we love and have been loved shape the tone and texture of our lives as well as its substance and our approach to living it.

Granted, it’s a skimpy holiday for me. I’m divorced with no love interest at the moment. My kids are grown and have their own lives and loves. People love me, FOR SURE, as Madison would say. It’s just that I’m no one’s number one—except for my precious puggle, Tripp, of course…

My precious puggle, Tripp

But as most of you know, it’s a particularly tender month for me, one filled with matters of the heart. My divorce was final this month. My elder son, who died at age fifteen, was born this month. And, it’s the anniversary month of my bout with transverse myelitis, that malicious inflammation of the spinal cord that affects one in a million and paralyzed me twenty-three years ago.

It’s also my birthday month, a celebratory time, but also a time for reflection on the dreams I had, now shadowed by a reality I could have never imagined.

Yet, I’m happy. My heart is full—a testament to Nepo’s words—because my life is full. And that’s important, so important, I’ve learned.


Nepo offers this:

You must meet the outer world with your inner world or existence will crush you… Meeting the days with our full hearts prevents collapse.

Yes! As I studied that image of the balloon-filled heart, I began to notice the number and variety of balloons. Then I considered the obvious fact that those balloons did not inflate themselves. It took effort for each one to become and remain full.

And so it is with our hearts.

To keep going through those tender times, we need to cultivate new and varied interests, work hard to strengthen and build relationships, and let our capacity to love fuel our capacity to grow and flourish.

For me, my ability to endure hardship requires it.

So, although I’m minding my pace during this “big year” of transition and celebrations, I’m also growing with it and through it, deepening the treasured relationships I already have while welcoming new people, interests, and opportunities to fill my heart.

This reminder helps:

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. —Theodore Roosevelt

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. —Theodore Roosevelt

That works for me. This Valentine’s Day, I’ll be donning my very best “blinged-up” Valentine sweater (yes, it has shiny sparkly beads) and joining Madison for a pizza party. We’ll have a grand time, FOR SURE!

How about you? Have new interests, people, or opportunities helped fill your heart during tender times? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

Oh, and whether yours is ample or skimpy, Happy Valentine’s Day!

And on we go…

My best – always,

Becky  (Nana B)

P.S. Thanks for sharing your comments and excitement about Madison’s “FOR SURE” moment and for your kind words about her yellow flyer story that launched Pathfinders for Autism twenty years ago.

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